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Review: Barbershop 2: Back in Business

Barbershop 2 has too many creaks in its gears to earn a wholehearted recommendation.

2.5
Barbershop 2: Back in Business
Photo: MGM

It’s pleasing to be back in the Barbershop with righteous owner Calvin (Ice Cube, as confident and winning as ever), with black history trampling Eddie (Cedric the Entertainer, whose natty gray afro alone is still a gas) and the rest of their trash-talking staff. Executive Producer Cube has stocked his sitcom-friendly playhouse with enough vivid characters, potent one-liners, and timely subject matter (with this week’s episode focusing on the evils of gentrification) to keep things lively and earnest. Barbershop 2 also tosses in some vivid flashbacks to the ‘60s, complete with Black Panthers, brothas helping brothas, a younger Cedric as a suit-sportin’ love daddy, and a fiery Chicago riot on the evening of Dr. King’s assassination. It’s not Do the Right Thing by any stretch, artistically or cinematically, but Barbershop 2 is occasionally charged in its cookie cutter history lessons and Afterschool Special moralizing (albeit with a smartly timed potty mouth). It suffers from familiarity, lacking the freshness of the original and over-reliant on moving its plot along instead of coasting along on its observational humor. It’s also padded out with too much of a good thing: Cedric has a dull romantic subplot, and spicy Queen Latifah’s beauty shop feels crammed in (a plug for the upcoming spin-off). Literally climaxing with a politician-worthy podium speech, Barbershop 2 has too many creaks in its gears to earn a wholehearted recommendation. But unlike the steadily deflating Friday series, this Cube vision has preserved its heart, integrity, and laugh-a-minute temerity.

Cast: Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Michael Ely, Sean Patrick Thomas, Troy Garity, Leonard Earl Howze, Harry J. Lennix, Queen Latifah Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan Screenwriter: Don D. Scott Distributor: MGM Running Time: 106 min Rating: PG-13 Year: 2004 Buy: Video, Soundtrack

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